It seems like another lifetime ago, but once upon a time, in the early 2000’s – I coached Varsity track. I was the hurdle coach and I can say with confidence that the lessons I learned went far beyond my coaching skills! My first year coaching, I was 22-years-old and took three athletes to State with two of the three bringing home medals – so you should probably view me as an ‘expert’ on hurdling, right?!? WRONG! Truth- all three of the state-qualifiers were Seniors and basically taught me everything about hurdles and ran the team. This both enforces my philosophy that the best way to learn is to teach as well as taught me the best way to learn – from children….especially angsty-grown children…they are just so fun!
Regardless of my level of expertise, I am proud of the experience and all that it taught me. I learned about the human body, training & conditioning, track, managing, collaborating, and so much more…
Today I have four lessons from hurdle coaching that I would like to share. Italicized below each lesson is how today, many years and a coaching career now passed, I use these lessons in my daily life.
1. You hurdle hurdles. Hurdle is both a noun and a verb. You do NOT jump hurdles, you do not hurdle the thingies, you HURDLE HURDLES.
When faced with challenges and adversity – face them. Don’t put a cast on a splinter or wart remover on a cut (ouch!) – use the right tools for the right challenge and the challenge will be more approachable as well as your success rate.
2. Strength builds confidence. In order to gain the courage and confidence to hurdle a hurdle you must train your body to be stronger and therefore more confident.
You gain strength through consistent, focused practice over time. This includes anything that takes confidence from talking with people to running a 5k, to handling a loss – heck! – to just live a worthy, loving life.
3. Start on the ground and build up. We would begin warming our bodies up by sitting on the ground in the extended hurdle position and pump our arms as if we were moving. Then we would integrate counting with a toe reach every third count. This was the first step in training our body – but moreso our minds – to be able to hurdle the hurdle.
The ground is always beneath you and will always support you. Take challenges in specific, measurable, attainable, realistic chunks and you will build a foundation of habits/skills that allow you to reach for the stars. (Holy moly I’m getting cliche heavy!)
4. Expect to fall, you will fall, but what will you do after? Everyone falls at some point, even Olympic athletes. It’s how we recover – both in speed and intentionality – that matters and could potentially win the race.
It’s not a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN. We all fail – that is the beauty of being HUMAN. It is how we recover from those failures, how we shift our mindset to realizing failures are really LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES – that is how we ‘win the race’.
Look for the lessons in all things. Be well,